AEGIS accredited guardians, especially those who had already experienced the effect of SARS back in 2002, had been watching the Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan vigilantly from the start. Email conversations around the subject between guardians and the AEGIS office began in January, late night emailing of concerns about how best to support students, families and schools. Weekdays, weekends, day or night, there was no distinction. It was a small glimpse into the all consuming world of educational guardianship.
Contingency Plans & Collaboration
Contingency plans sprang into action, sharing of information and support between AEGIS members began, and the collaboration has continued and strengthened all the way through these last few extraordinary months.
Guardians’ priority has been the children under their care, and supporting worried parents, often on the other side of the world. Their commitment and concern for all their students has been incredible to watch, and the problem solving second to none. Staff have been working hard to ensure extra accommodation provision for the large number of students unable to travel home at half-term and flexibility for ever-changing plans.
Yesterday the government announced that all schools would close, giving guardianship organisations 48 hours to change arrangements for any students who were not already flying home or leaving school by 20th March. The guardianship teams are working tirelessly around the clock to make sure that everyone is safe and sound, and either on flights back home or safely in homestays or residential programmes for the Easter holidays.
Collaboration between schools and guardians has also be encouraging. We have supported many grateful school staff with queries around guardianship. Guardians have stepped up to help provide guardianship support to those students not under their care, mainly homestay accommodation.
For Chinese and Hong Kong parents and students, who had a real understanding of the fear and fatality of the virus, the anxiety must have been beyond comprehension, especially now watching it unfold in the UK. Our accredited guardians are culturally aware and understand how best to support overseas parents and their children, some being the same nationality. I have taken calls from guardians over the weeks, and could hear the emotion in their voices, they really do care.
Guardianship is needed
It is clear that guardianship is not ‘an unnecessary extra’, it is absolutely vital in supporting international students studying in the UK. Those who run guardianship organisations and act as guardians are working many extra hours behind the scenes to ensure children are well looked after, just as school staff and others are.
Lastly, a huge well done and thanks to AEGIS accredited guardianship organisations, who really do deserve recognition, all still working hard as schools close.
Everyone is doing their best.